Murder charge in fatal shooting of LI veteran

(L-R) Sgt. Brett Wessel, 26, of Leavenworth, Kan.,

(L-R) Sgt. Brett Wessel, 26, of Leavenworth, Kan., was charged with the murder of Ronkonkoma native Ryan Dickinson, according to Christopher Haug, a Fort Hood spokesman. Photo Credit: handout

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Army authorities at Fort Hood have charged an active-duty Afghanistan War veteran with murder in connection with Sunday's fatal shooting of Ronkonkoma native Ryan Dickinson.

Witnesses have said that Sgt. Brett Wessel shot Dickinson, a retired Army sergeant, after they argued during a barbecue at the Killeen, Texas, military post.

Wessel, 26, of Leavenworth, Kan., was charged with murder and assault with intent to commit murder, according to Christopher Haug, a Fort Hood spokesman.

Haug said Wessel now faces an Article 32 hearing -- somewhat similar to a grand jury hearing -- that helps determine what kind of military trial he will receive.

Wessel will probably be held at the Bell County, Texas, jail, just outside Fort Hood, Haug said.

Until last month, the jail held Nidal Hasan, the former Army psychiatrist who was sentenced to death for the 2009 Fort Hood shooting spree that left 13 dead and more than 30 injured.

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Wessel served a yearlong combat tour in Afghanistan that ended in December 2010, Haug said.

Dickinson, 26, who enlisted six months after graduating from Connetquot High School in 2005, served a 15-month tour in Iraq that ended in 2009, according to his sister, Kate Dickinson of Farmingville.

She said he was medically discharged for a psychological disorder in 2012. His work in Iraq included clearing away roadside bombs that proved to be a threat to U.S. troops -- and he settled with his wife and two children, ages 5 and 6, near Fort Hood, she said.

According to Kate Dickinson, witnesses said her brother and Wessel exchanged words at the backyard barbecue, prompting the host of the party to ask Wessel to leave.

Wessel allegedly went to his house a few doors away, returned with a gun and shot Dickinson in the chest sometime after 2 a.m.

A wake for Dickinson is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Moloney's Bohemia Funeral Home, 1320 Lakeland Ave., Bohemia.

The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church, 1140 Locust Ave., Bohemia. Burial will be at Calverton National Cemetery.

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